Tag Archives: Poetry

Shelf-Life

I was born with an expiration date,
hung from my neck,
stamped like a license plate
It was a notice to the world stating
Get what you can from him because he won’t see 18
He won’t make it to college, not through high school
And do not listen to him when he tells you these are his dreams
Because they’re lies, and whether he recognizes it or not
We, have plans for him
And those plans neither include a family nor a happiness
Because neither are sufficient motivation for him to comply with us
No! for us to get what we want from him,
he must be, broken, shattered, hopeless
And he must believe he is the one responsible for his condition
He must believe it is the result of, his, decisions
That he chose his position
That he had an equal opportunity with everyone else to do something different
He can never know that the wrong side of the tracks
was really red lines on a map
drawn down at city hall
That it was the National Housing Act of 1934
That laid the path for the rise of the ghetto,
urban farms, where it’s not crops that are grown,
but people, stock for cell blocks,
to subsidize markets locked
by inflation from free trade participation in a nation
that ain’t never done shit without enslavement
These are the things he can never know
He cannot know that poverty, like wealth is created
He cannot know that it wasn’t chance,
or a roll of the dice that planted him in impoverishment like cracks in the pavement
He cannot know that the ghetto is not inevitable,
that it is not unchangeable, that being poor is not a fate, not predetermined
but planned, scripted, constricted to particular segments of the society we live
Because should he ever learn these things,
then that is the moment we lose control of him
And we need a continuous supply of workers, strong, and ready to go
Who will accept never drawing a check,
never checking the drawing and asking,
did I ever actually have a chance to live?
Is having a shelf-life really living?
Knowing you are member to a group of human beings they call and endangered species, they, call me, an endangered species
I was never expected to live
Imagine the weight of a license plate like that
If it hung from your neck could you ever stand fully erect, would you perform to your best, if the best you could expect was to somehow slip detection or to die in prison, stamping the plates of future children who will be following your steps
How would you feel?
How would you act?
If you knew the system might have more to gain from your death?
 
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If your partners, were skimming profits

Droppin income into losses,

you’d lock the faucets, if you caught them

And if they spent it, on content to keep you impoverished

And dependent upon them

Well, you wouldn’t call’em partners

You’d flip the script, quick, shift the method from exist

To the “Big Payback,” revenge a cold dish

Loyalty a must, betrayal the rust

But why we only feel it from the ones close to us?

The State claimed to abolish systems of enslavement

With the 13th Amendment, Emancipation Proclamation

But read it closely and you’ll see it defined the method

Intrepid and shrewd progress was arrested

All they had to do was convict a person of a “crime”

Then sell their labor back to plantations and mines

Convict Leasing, a system that expanded

The answer to cheap labor their markets demanded

“All Lives Don’t Matter” by Renaissance

 

Written in response to the “All Lives Matter” slogan and belief that has been a tactic of invalidation of the Human Rights and Civil Rights struggle, which the #BlackLivesMatter Movement embodies, this piece rips into the history of legislation, constitutional amendments, the rise of the prison industrial complex, and the impact these racialized systems of oppression, socially and legally reinforced, and how they harm People of Color.

The twisted and disgusting perversion of my declaring that my life has value and that I deserve respect merely by the fact that I am a human being, into something that is a denial of anyone else’s life having value and deserving respect is purely idiocy and ignorance, and extreme expression of #WhiteFragility and privilege. This system does not treat people all the same and the data that proves this is astounding, but one need only look at the laws and how they have been applied to perceive that this system is racist at its core

The Lie

The boy with the stars in his hands, thought he had the future in his grasps
But as if he had cupped water it poured through his fingers as time to the past
& as he flipped over the hour glass he found a hole making time running too fast to handle
Gasping for breath from underneath of a strangle hold, of, what if, and what could have been, & But if onlys… trailed off into a whisper of what should have been…

When I was a child, when I was the boy gazing into the heavens blazing trails around the moon and between the stars and it seemed that all horizons were possible, and my parents told me with all the honesty that they could muster through the crusted lies, that I could be anything I wanted to be, that nobody was better than me, that as long as I had my eyes on the prize that no force on earth could ever stop me

All the while knowing the full breadth of the truth and how it would come crashing down upon me, crushing my ribs as it suffocated the last exasperated breath of hope from underneath my bruised and swollen chest, as the fight drained from my eyes like a lion that has been chained so long the bars on the cage were the extent of its visual range

You don’t do that kind of damage to a child who is but learning to spread their wings, because, although it seems improbable, and damn near, down right, impossible… that child might grow into the being that takes flight and ushers in a world of change

So they lied to me, intentionally, to set me free